Serious thought should be given by parents, especially fathers, to prepare their sons for the various  responsibilities that will be their lot when they spiritually mature and are baptised. As valuable members of an ecclesia they can extend their Godly influence, and if they marry, be faithful husbands and spiritual  heads of their households, providing for their wives and families. This preparation for our sons’ future is a very serious responsibility. However, in placing emphasis in one direction, fathers may not have given sufficient thought to the responsibility that God has given them to care for and guide their daughters. Our aim in this series of articles is to consider this aspect of preparing daughters and young sisters for their  equally important role in ecclesial and family life.

Divine principles do not change like fashions,  but are age-abiding and therefore need to be  carefully upheld. Clear guidance is given to fathers to instruct their children in Godly ways. In  Psalm 144 David writes: “Rid me, and deliver me  from the hand of strange children, whose mouth  speaketh vanity, and their right hand is a right  hand of falsehood: That our sons may be as plants  grown up in their youth; that our daughters may  be as corner stones, polished after the similitude  of a palace” (v11–12). David’s desire was that he would be “rid” of the influence of those children of  strangers who knew not God, so that they would not  affect his sons and daughters and encourage them  to conform to their evil ways. His desire was that  his sons would grow up as strong plants, ultimately  bringing forth fruit to the glory of God. For his  daughters his desire was that he could teach them  the real value of godly womanhood in the home and in the ecclesia. He wanted them to be foundation  or corner stones of their palace or temple, as the word is normally rendered, and he knew it was imperative to carefully shape and polish them for this future role.

David wanted his daughters to be mature like the wise woman in Proverbs, and not like the foolish  woman: “Every wise woman buildeth her house:  but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands”  (Prov 14:1). Building a house takes careful thought  and planning, which is then followed by patient  and steady progress, using the correct materials, to  fulfil that plan. Proverbs sees this work of building  as the particular role of the woman. Paul instructed  the mature sisters, or mothers, to “teach the young  women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love  their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at  home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that  the word of God be not blasphemed” (Titus 2:4–5).  This is the career development programme that both  mothers and fathers should focus upon for their  daughters. There is no greater or more rewarding  “career” for a woman to aspire to. So fathers, as  heads of their households, must ensure that this  training to prepare their daughters is in constant  progress—it is not a responsibility to be left solely  to the mother.

All parents with daughters know that their  little girls are a special treasure, bringing joy  and happiness into their lives. As they grow their  carefree ways are left behind and those softer  womanly characteristics blossom as they develop  in spiritual maturity. As they grow they realise that  their father is their pillar of protection, who will  do all in his power to protect them from anything  untoward happening to them. They see their father  as their confidant to whom they can always turn  for sound judgment and wise guidance, because  they have learnt that he always has their wellbeing  foremost in his heart. In simple terms—they fully  trust their Dad! And this is how God intended it  to be.

Who Giveth This Woman in Marriage?

It is quite a touching moment for a father when  he has to face the fact that he is about to give his  daughter into the care of another man. The swiftly  passing years from childhood, through teen years  and on to womanhood seem to have passed all too  quickly. Yet spiritually-minded parents have had  this day in focus from the day their little daughter  was born. They know what is necessary for a  well-balanced marriage in the Lord, and they have steadily developed these values in their daughter.  They have been gently fitting her for her important  new role.

The expression, “giving in marriage”, is a  scriptural term. As we know, marriage in its fullest  sense is but a shadow of the marriage of Christ  and his bride, the ecclesia. One of the hallmarks  of Noah’s day, as it is also of ours, was a complete  denial of the true principles of marriage, when  “they took them wives of all which they chose”  (Gen 6:2). So “in the days that were before the  flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and  giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered  into the ark” (Matt 24:38). As the true principles of  marriage were forsaken and the sons of God married  the daughters of men, so Christ warns us to expect  the same situation in our day.

Yet the basis of “giving in marriage” goes  right back to the beginning when Eve was given  to Adam in marriage by God. She had been made  as an “help meet [or ‘fit’] for him”, because God  saw that it was not good that he should be alone.  She was made with the capacity to be his faithful  and beloved friend, and was presented or given to  Adam in all her purity. The words spoken by God  on that occasion were quoted by Jesus 4000 years  later, showing that neither time, custom, nor any  other fashion has altered these fundamentals of  marriage: “For this cause shall a man leave father  and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they  twain shall be one flesh” (Matt 19:5). All fathers  know that if they have a daughter they will possibly  at some time be re-enacting what God did when He  gave Eve to Adam. Parents need to be constantly  vigilant, knowing that they must likewise prepare  their daughter and present her to her husband in all  purity and spiritual maturity, making sure that she  understands her role as a companion and wife.

Paul Understood the Lesson

Paul drew upon the significance of Yahweh  presenting Eve to Adam, for he saw in that event  the fullness of its spiritual lesson—of Christ taking  his bride, the ecclesia. The bride that Christ desires  is “a glorious ecclesia, not having spot, or wrinkle,  or any such thing; but that it should be holy and  without blemish”, having been washed pure in  mind by the word of God (Eph 5:27). Using this  figure Paul describes his role in presenting the  ecclesia to Christ: “I am jealous over you with godly  jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband,  that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ”  (2 Cor 11:2). Parents likewise should accept their  responsibility of preparing and presenting their  daughters as “chaste virgins” on their wedding  day. They know the challenges and pressures of  the world, and they “fear, lest by any means, as the  serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty”, so their  daughters’ minds should be beguiled by worldly  suggestions of moral or mental laxness—lured to  seek fleshly pleasure and excitement instead of  following the “simplicity that is in Christ”. A caring  father who, together with his wife, is vigilant in  these things, knows that he has been entrusted with  this charge by God.

Care for Daughters Seen in the Law

In Israel a father, when giving his daughter in  marriage, was in effect guaranteeing that she  was pure and wholesome. The lessons from  Deuteronomy 22:14–21 highlight this fact. If there  was ever a question after marriage that this was not  so, it was treated seriously. We may wonder about  the details and how this was actually established,  but the fact remains—Israel understood the charge  was serious. Both father and mother understood  the high moral standards that Yahweh’s holiness  required, and were responsible, not only for  teaching this to their daughters, but also sharing  the responsibility to maintain it. They were to guide  and keep their daughters safe from that sin which  is commonly called “folly in Israel” (v21; see Gen  34:7; Judges 20:6; 2 Sam 13:12). Today, with such  permissiveness preached and exhibited around us,  fathers have a very real need to keep the principles  of modesty in dress and deportment high in the  minds of their daughters, as well as keeping them  from places where these values are discounted.  Modesty is a fundamental of holiness, and therefore  must be instilled in the minds of daughters from  early years. Like holiness, modesty is not a topic for  negotiation (1 Pet 1:13–16). A daughter, knowing  that her parents love her and seek only her good,  will willingly submit to their guidance in these  things, even if not fully understanding the reason  for this at the time.

Daughters and Vows

In the matter of vows made by daughters there is  another clear example of God’s guidance to fathers, as head of their household, in the care they are to  show to their daughters. Those who have been  influenced by the worldly wisdom behind equal  rights for women may consider this law rather  outdated. They will not see the wisdom that lies  behind it. The law is found in Numbers 30:3–5: “If  a woman also vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind  herself by a bond, being in her father’s house in her  youth; and her father hear her vow, and her bond  wherewith she hath bound her soul, and her father  shall hold his peace at her: then all her vows shall  stand, and every bond wherewith she hath bound  her soul shall stand. But if her father disallow her  in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or  of her bonds wherewith she hath bound her soul,  shall stand: and the LORD shall forgive her, because  her father disallowed her.”

It may seem a very commendable thing that a  woman “in her youth” wishes to commit herself by  a vow to a certain service to Yahweh. So why does  Yahweh give her father the authority to intervene  and revoke the vow? It is because the father has the  overall care and guidance of his daughter—he is her  head. The daughter’s vow may be motivated by the  most wholesome spirit, but the father has the whole  life of his daughter in mind, and he needs to balance  out the overall bearing such a vow may have in the  long term. Let us give an example. A young sister may hear a moving talk on mission work in distant  lands and enthusiastically decide she will go out  into a mission area to help with the work. Her father,  taking all factors into consideration, may have  concerns that she will not be able to cope with all  aspects of the work or be able to cope if difficulties  arise. He therefore says “no” to the project. He  has balanced his decision with spiritual maturity  and care for his daughter’s overall wellbeing. Do  fathers realise that their daughter’s development,  even in such an area, is to be moulded and directed  by their guidance? A daughter must realise that her  father has no doubt prayerfully made his decision,  based on his care for her and what is best for her  in the long term.

God’s Care of Young Wives

Another example of God’s care for young women  is seen in the simple law regarding the first year of  marriage: “When a man hath taken a new wife, he  shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged  with any business: but he shall be free at home one  year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath  taken” (Deut 24:5). The expression “cheer up his  wife” may have caused a smile at times, but in so  doing we have possibly missed the significance of  this very exacting law. The word “cheer up” speaks  of “rejoicing” with his wife, and is so rendered in  Proverbs 5:18–19: “Rejoice with the wife of thy  youth”. Why was this law given? One could say,  ‘Surely if war threatens the land all young ablebodied  men should go out and fight’. The answer  is a definite NO. A newly married man was to trust  the war to Yahweh’s care and stay home and look  after his new wife, and she in turn would learn to  trust her husband. Likewise the young husband  must be exempted from business matters beyond  the normal requirement to provide for his new wife  and himself. In fulfilment of God’s instruction in  Genesis 2:24, he had left his father and mother and  now was to cleave unto his new bride.

Young brethren, do you understand the great  change of circumstances that has come upon  a young bride? She has been brought up in a  Godly household environment with the unfailing  protection and guidance of her father and the loving  care of her mother. They have watched over her  and been her lifelong security. She now leaves this  to take on the role of a “keeper at home” in her  own home, submissively responding to the love,  protection and guidance of her husband. He is to  “dwell with her according to knowledge, giving  honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and  as being heirs together of the grace of life; that his  prayers be not hindered” (1 Pet 3:7). A father who  is about to give his beloved daughter away will first  ensure that the young brother who wishes to marry  her understands the principles of this law. He will  want to know that he has given serious thought to  the responsibilities of setting up their own home so  that his daughter will be provided and sufficiently  cared for, knowing that then she can manifest those  qualities of a wife and mother which she has been  taught at home.

But Thou Excellest Them All

In conclusion let us recall some of the qualities of  the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31. We know that  the heart of her husband safely trusts in her, and  that she will do him good all the days of her life.  She looks well to the ways of her household, and  does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up, and call her blessed and her husband also  praises her. We may ask, “Who was this woman?”  The fact is that before she became this faithful wife  and mother she was someone’s daughter. Those  wonderful qualities that now make her so valuable  to her husband, and esteem her in the eyes of her  children, were instilled in her well before she was  married. Thus the writer, when reflecting upon  the outstanding virtues of this graceful woman,  concludes with these words: “Many daughters  have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all”  (v29). He realises that what he sees portrayed in  her now is the result of having been well tutored  in the ways of godliness and diligence in home and  family matters. She has been taught and she believes  that the fashion of the day is a fleeting vanity. She  knows that lasting value is to fear Yahweh: “Favour  is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that  feareth the LORD, she shall be praised” (v30).

So, fathers, knowing the blessing and pleasure  it is to have daughters, let us with our wives be  vigilant in preparing them for the future roles they  will play when they mature to womanhood and  become sisters in the ecclesia. Not all daughters  will marry but they will all have a very valuable  part to play in their service in Christ. And further,  be assured that the loving care and guidance you  show to your daughters while they are young and  in your charge will be repaid handsomely when the  years have rolled past and you are in your latter  years. This ability to reciprocate loving care is just  one of the many wonderful attributes that God has  given to our daughters